Long Island Sun Devils 8, Mifflinburg Phillies 4
‘RBI Machine Schippel Named MVP’
By Jim Peyton, special to MSBL National
November 12, 2016, Clearwater, FL – Philadelphia Phillies’ Carpenter Complex – The top-seeded Sun Devils and the fifth-seeded Phillies engaged in a pitchers’ duel through most of the game. The Sun Devils finally broke open a tie game with five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Phillies mounted a rally in the ninth, but after loading the bases with nobody out, the Sun Devils closed out the game, 8-4.
Long Island finished first in their division and earned a first round bye. Mifflinburg finished second in their division and as the fifth seed, played a first round game Friday morning against the Dundalk Brewers, which they won, 13-2.
The Sun Devils beat the Oilers de Venezuela BBC, 7-2 in the next round while the Phillies, playing their second game of the day withstood a furious ninth inning rally by the Valenzuela Lancers to win, 13-9.
The Sun Devils and Phillies both held on to win their semifinal games by one run Saturday morning over the Oilers de Venezuela BBC and the St. Louis Longhorns respectively, setting up their meeting in the championship game.
The Sun Devils’ Cliff Miller held the Phillies to one run and four hits through the first five innings. The Phillies’ Eric Toomey held the Sundevils to two runs and seven hits through the first six innings. Neither starter walked a batter.
The Sun Devils scored first in the bottom of the first inning. E.J. McVetty led off with a flare down the left field line that dropped in for a double. Mike Zampino sacrificed him to third then Rich Burgos drove in the game’s first run with a single to left. Toomey picked Burgos off first and recorded the second out. A courtesy runner stole third base and scored on Keith Locklear’s line drive single to center. The inning came to an end when Toomey picked another runner off first.
The Phillies got their first base runner on a fielding error in the second but couldn’t take advantage. Chuck Ream got their first hit with a one out, line drive single in the third. Mark LeValley then singled him over to second. The runners were sacrificed into scoring position by Chet Haifley then Bob Smoker drove in the Phillies first run with a hard ground ball single to center. LeValley was held at third and the inning ended on Rob McDonald’s line drive to Sundevils’ third baseman Tony Lujan.
The Sun Devils lifted Miller in the sixth after a one-out single to left by the Phillies’ Haifley. Rick Bartilucci entered and stranded a runner at second after a sacrifice by Smoker. Bartilucci hit Brian Ramsey to lead off the seventh, but retired the next three men in order, punctuating the inning with a called third strike for the third out.
After a lead off pop-up for the first out, Burgos reached base on a perfectly executed bunt. Mancebo finally chased Toomey with a triple over the center fielder’s head that landed on the warning track. The run ended Toomey’s day. He left having allowed just three runs, scattering nine hits and striking out three. Pete Hayden entered in relief and stranded the runner on third.
Trailing 3-1 after seven innings, the Phillies mounted a comeback in the eighth. Don Leitzel and LeValley sandwiched walks around a strike out. The second walk chased Bartilucci. Willy Contreras entered in relief.
Contreras had pitched 8.1 innings in the Sun Devils semifinal win earlier in the day. The first batter he faced hit a hard ground ball to first baseman Gigi Vano’s right. Vano intercepted the ball before it could get into the outfield and flipped to Contreras who covered first for the second out. The runners had moved into scoring position on the play. Smoker picked up his second and third RBIs of the game with a line drive single to center to tie the game. McDonald was retired on a fly ball to deep left field for the third out.
The Sun Devils bounced back in the bottom of the inning as Anthony Vasquez led off with a line drive single to center. Eddie Murria reached on a throwing error on his sacrifice bunt. Mike Schippell broke the tie with a single and Jerry Belfiore walked to load the bases and Brian Bond followed with a two-run single to right.
The Phillies brought in Jim Egolf to relieve Hayden and things unraveled quickly. On a fielder’s choice to the first baseman, a run scored on an errant throw to second base and another run scored on another errant throw to third. A fielding error by the second baseman stretched the string of Sun Devils’ batters to reach base to seven before Egolf retired the next three batters on a strike out and two ground outs. But the damage had been done as three unearned runs gave the Sun Devils an 8-3 lead going to the ninth inning.
The Phillies loaded the bases on Ramsey’s single and two walks forcing the Sun Devils to bring in McVetty to relieve Contreras. McVetty stemmed the rally with a strike out, RBI ground out, and game-ending ground out.
Sun Devils Manager Todd Lefkowitz accepted the championship trophy and had to pick an MVP. “We have a ton of MVP’s on this team”, stated Lefkowitz while awarded the MVP Bat to Mike Schippell for his game winning RBI that secured the Sun Devils a first round bye. Ironically, Schippell had the game winning RBI in the championship game, too.
The Sun Devils finished the week with a 7-1 record. The Phillies, 6-3.
Mifflinburg Phillies 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 1 – 4 6 4
Long Island Sun Devils 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 x – 8 12 1
WP: Contreras, LP: Haifley
Double: LI – McVetty, Mancebo
Triple: LI – Mancebo
SAC: M – Haifley, Smoker; LI – Zampiano, Murria
Phillies IP H R ER BB K
Toomey 6.1 9 3 3 0 3
Hayden 0.2 3 5 2 1 0
Egolf 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
Hayden faced 5 batters in the eighth
Sun Devils IP H R ER BB K
Miller 5.1 4 0 0 0 3
Bartilucci 2.0 0 2 2 2 2
Contreras 0.2 2 2 1 1 0
McVetty 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
Contreras faced 3 batters in the eighth
Inherited Runners/Scored: M – Hayden 1/0, Egolf 1/1; LI – Bartilucci 1/0, Contreras 2/2, McVetty 3/1
HBP: Ramsey (by Bartilucci)
Blown Save: Contreras